Sunday, December 14, 2014

Projecting Life

I’m high up and exposed. It’s winter, and the humidity and heat have finally subsided. It’s cold, really cold. The wind chills my body, but fires the core. The wall is 20 degrees overhung. I look up, relaxing the tension in my body, shaking out for a few seconds. Focus on your breath. I put my right foot on a slope on the arete, drop-knee toe-hook (yes really, it’s awesome), pull myself as much as I can into the left wall with my right foot, and huck with my right hand to a crimp above.

My fingers caress the hold and right foot flies backwards in a circular motion toward my left side. And I am flying through the air down, down swinging around the corner like a monkey in the amazon. I let out a scream naturally, I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

“This is absurd!!” I yell down to Ryan. “Seriously, where did this swing come from?” I can’t stop laughing. He looks up and smiles, knowing that I had never had a swing that dramatic before. I felt like a wild animal hunting in the forest. I can’t ever recall a time where I have climbed so dynamically.

Last week, I reached a new high point, doing all the moves on lead except for the throw to the anchor. This climb, The Real Legend, 13a, at Long Dong is the most aesthetic line here. It’s a prominent golden arete with orange and red varnish. The holds are pretty good but spaced far enough away for me to throw, heel hook, or cut-feet for most of the climb. The climbing is steep and the grade, intimidating, but the line is calling my name.

My resume doesn’t qualify me for this climb. When I told Ryan I started climbing 5.12 this year and had sent one 12b outside before, he gave me a silly look. I remember walking up to it with Jim for the first time. We were curious about hard climbing, about putting many months of effort into one climb. It felt silly to go back to it after 4-5 weeks of effort and still not do all of the moves.

Climb. Hang. Climb. Hang. Fall. TAKE!

One day, a few weeks back, I was top roping it, frustrated that I still couldn’t pull the crux. Why am I even on this thing? I’m not strong enough. The mind, the ego, has it’s elusive way of pulling me back with words. This is just silly. You haven’t sent anything since you’ve been here. And you haven’t touched most of Long Dong! I lowered off deflated and upset. Fear.

I tried it one more time that day and held onto the crux crimp for the first time. It goes! It really goes!

Faith had been restored.

Fear of the unknown is a terrifying thought for me, not just in climbing, but in life. Sometimes, I get it and take risks. Sometimes, I don’t and recoil with fear. A lot of this year I have been run over with fear - fear of missing out, fear of failing on a climb, fear of falling,  fear of being alone, of losing myself. This fear has made me lose myself.

Projecting The Real Legend is my metaphor for life right now. I’ve been living in fear, in fear of not being good enough, of not being bold or balanced and not serving others -  always wanting immediate success or known outcomes. After having those thoughts about the Legend, about how I had no business being on it, I decided to say, “Fuck it!”

I love that climb. It’s long, challenging, so beautiful, so powerful, and hard for me. I come back to the same route every weekend (weather permitting) and give it a few more attempts. I find some new beta, make new links or high points, skip clips. Every weekend, I learn something. The process is slow and sometimes frustrating, but I make progress and enjoy it. I laugh at the wild swings and falls that remind me to let lose and relax, that life shouldn’t be so serious all the time. 

Hanging out on one of the awesome 5.11's

We walked down the steep, muddy trail that funnels rivers when it rains. It rained yesterday. Toothy, spiked deep green plants guard the wildlife from people. Two fisherman are perched on a pillar to our right as we look out over the ocean. They are sitting back, rods attached to an anchor, and lines 30 ft down into the water.

The sun peers through the clouds, making the ocean sparkle when we enter the Golden Valley to see The Real Legend. I turn around to see the route I am fixated on. “AH! I’m so psyched!” I shout and giggle. It ignites that fire in me, that stoke and passion that I have let guide me throughout my life

Life is projecting. Life requires persistence, patience, love, and forgiveness. Jim left almost six weeks ago, and I had puffy eyes for weeks. I cried at work, the coffee shop, alone in my room, at Long Dong. I was utterly alone, weekends to look forward to where I could speak to foreigners, but I spend my weeks at a job where I am one of the three English speakers other than the kids I teach. I never realized how a language barrier could be so debilitating.

I wished that over night, I wouldn’t feel this way. That I wouldn’t feel so far away from everything I loved and cared about. But it doesn’t happen that way, just like projecting something really hard for me doesn’t come over night.

I’ve made small changes to my life -  time meditating every day, reading books about Buddhism, focusing on staying present (which is always hard), doing self-reflection, sleeping properly, stretching and healing my body, being open to Taiwanese culture instead of thinking the West has it figured out.

This return to self is coming along slowly, chipping away at the conditions of my past. Some days are good, some hurt. I still cry, but less. I’ve stopped writing to-do lists, rushing to things, creating a sense of urgency to feel productive. Now, I’m just trying to live, slowing down and focusing on healing the body and the soul.

Just like climbing, I am trying to let my soul guide me instead of fear. I hope this finds you well, and I encourage you to think long and deeply about yourself and where you are. Push yourself, step outside your comfort zone, and go for something that you soul calls you to.

With Love,
The views aren't too bad here.


  1. Hi this is your old friend Bill from Berkeley. I think this blog is pretty interesting. I have always though climbing was cool and something I would try maybe, but when I lived in GA there wasn't any el captian or any other really good climbing places. I have now left berkeley and california for now at least and I now go to University of West Florida on the northwest coast of florida 11 miles from the missipi border. In the end I think berkeley was not all bad I think good at times esspically this past 1 1/2 when I lived at euclid. When I moved out of Euclid I found a really cool thing remember that map of uc berkeley you gave me on your birthday well I found it Alix it was so nice of you to write it and now i have here to remember you with. I feel blessed to have meet some one like you and I am sad that you are no longer near me like you were last year. It too bad I'm too much of a troll to be on your facebook and now that you lose your phone I have limted contact with you. I'm sorry I trolled you on facebook back then I was bored and unlike at euclid i didnt know what to do sometimes euclid was a lot better for me at least. maybe you'll forgive me and un block me on facebook maybe not. keep having fun times in your life. In a couple years I will be back out west climbing for myself maybe not in California maybe in a nearby state, but I defintly will be climbing once I graduate. Alix you were and are an awesome women I just hope I can still be freinds with you now and keep in touch with you now that you are so far away. I hope you like me as much as a friend as you did in 2012 even though were really far away from each other now. I hope you read this and that I can still keep and touch with you in the future my phone number is still 310 806 1630 even though I live in west FLA now. I hope you keep climbing and keep blogging Alix aka lacy back in 2012 on my map.

    1. Bill! I just tried to find you on facebook, but didn't see you in the search. I have thought a lot about you recently, and I have been meaning to get in contact with you. I am SO HAPPY for you Bill! You did it! You're at a University!
      I am not mad at you and I haven't been, I just forgot to unblock you. I am so happy you still have that map and love it. Do you still have the rocks? I had so much fun living with you in Kidd and Euclid. You are such a troll and funny guy, I love it.

      I hope you start climbing! You can find a gym in Florida and when you are done with school, I would love to climb with you if you are out West or I go east.

      I will give you a ring when I am back in the states.

      I miss you BILLIAM!!!!

    2. I'm very very happy to hear from you alix. This made my day. I just hope its you and not someone else who replied, but it sounds like you in the reply to my comment. Its kind of hard to find me on facebook. I had this problem with freinds at euclid who were looking to add me last spring. The trick is to look up Bill Roth pensacola, Florida or Bill Roth Berkeley Student Cooperative on facebook.UWF is a mid size university but it has a rock climbing wall that is 30ft its at the gym which is great. I'm glad to be done with BCC it wasn't that great. Unfortantly I don't have the rocks sadly I left them at Euclid. I told ken to mail them to me if he could.

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  3. Hi its your old friend Bill Roth again. I hope you aren't mad at my mess of comments I made. I think this is a lot cleaner. Please don't not unblock on facebook cause I made a bunch of comments. I just wanted to fit everything in and I thought I would hear from you for a while sorry. I will never be a troll or annoyance on facebook if you re add me. I miss you please stay friends with me your so cool.

    Sorry for the mess on the comment area Alix. Um what happened is that I didn't see the delete button at the bottom of each comment I posted three days ago on saturday here in Western Florida time. I was really busy and forgot to spell check as well as make sure comment what should have been one comment was not too long and had everything I wanted to say in it. This is a lot cleaner and easier to read.

    I sadly no longer have the rocks anymore :( hopefully they can be sent to me here from Berkeley. Are you still going to china Alix and when are you coming back to the u.s. Where in China are you Climbing? Can you please respond to this soon I've had a hard week adjusting here and I would really feel good if you responded to my comment. I hope yo

    I hope you don't change you mind about adding me again on facebook. just go to lock in upper right corner then click how do I stop someone from bothering me to unblock. It would mean alot to me if you responded to my message here and if you un blocked me. I've had a hard move to West Florida and Its been stress full. This university work is hard :/. I'm more well rested so hopefully this is easier to read than my first comment.

  4. Yo Alix, appears you all made it to Taiwan, congratulations! From your writings, I must say you appear to be growing strong virtuously and good for you! Your writings are fantastic! I've pretty much placed myself too in a position of being a stranger in a strange land ever since leaving Bishop. Lots of solitude for myself here in Alaska. I go days without saying a word to another soul; quite the loud mind at times... I identify with your writings, and I really appreciate it! Keep the pen to the paper sister! You got something there!

    Anyhow, saying HI and THANK YOU!

    The state of mind is the source of experience - not the effect.

    Wu Wei,
    Eddie :)